The Latin Quarter and Class (Days 6 and 7)


Yesterday (Tuesday) we had orientation for school at the Sorbonne.  We walked around to the different buildings that classes would be held in, and then took a placement test.

The Sorbonne – founded in 1253

Oh gosh.  The placement exam was really crazy, I have no idea why they made me take it when I’m signed up for the beginner level!  I was able to fill out the things that it asked in English, and then after sitting for a few minutes, I raised my hand and when the lady came, pointed to the question about how many years of French we’d taken where I had put “0-none.”  She let me leave thankfully, but I made a ton of noise and everyone turned and looked at me.  Hah!


Later that day, I took a walk around the Latin Quarter.  I saw the Panthéon, The Sorbonne (my school), Saint-Séverin, and the Luxembourg gardens.  I’ll probably go back in a few days because I couldn’t go inside of most of the buildings because it was too late.

The Panthéon

 Today (Wednesday) was the first day of class.  Ahh!  Not going to lie, it was kind of awful.  I went to orientation with my roommate and the one of the other girls in our apartment building.  The whole thing was in French, so I have no clue what was said.  After about 20 minutes, they started calling names and of course I was in the beginner class.

I went out of the room to get my textbook and classmates and professor, but when I got to the textbook table I had no idea what the name of my class was in French.  So as I was looking it up in my booklet, my class left!  There was a guy from my class who was also left behind while he tried to get his book (we didn’t end up having one, but since we didn’t know French, that was hard to know).  We teamed up and eventually found someone who understood that we were lost and stopped sending us back to the book table!  They gave us the address for where our class would be.

The streets in Paris are crazy.  As my dad said on the phone a few days ago, “It’s like someone threw a bunch of spaghetti down from the sky and called it roads.”  Totally true.  Probably has something to do with why I keep getting lost.

Once we got on our way to find the class, I found out the guy was Italian.  And oh my gracious did he like to ask for directions.. like every five seconds!  It was driving me nuts and making us even more late than we already were.  On our way, we overheard a girl talking to a couple about taking French class and found out she was in our class too, so she joined us.  So An Italian, American and Brazilian tried to make their way through the streets of Paris speaking English to one another and asking French people for directions.  Oy.  I definitely felt like the underachiever of the group since the other two were using their second language to speak to each other while making their way to class to learn a third!

When we got to class, it didn’t seem too intense, I was happy that I was understanding what the professor was telling us even though she was speaking French only.  But boy did it start to go really fast when she started the lesson!  Yikes.  She would go over vocabulary and have us repeat as a class then randomly call on us, but not look at us when calling our names so.. I don’t know, it was throwing me off.  Yikes.  It was intense.  Then she got to teaching some other.. eh.. stuff.. structures and verbs and… I don’t even know.  That’s where it got kind of hard, because by just seeing her point at something and talk, you can’t get the exact translation of what it is what you’re being taught.  Bahh.

After class I tried to go find a bookstore that she had written down and drawn directions for so I could buy my textbook.  I went to the exact store she had sent us to and went up to a person who worked in the store and said “hello, I don’t speak French” (in French, was very proud, I had blanked every other time I wanted to say that this week) and pointed to the book name.  She said to go to another store of the same name down the street a little.  I went to that store and they told me to go down the street a little to another store of the same name… what the heck?  There were like 4 versions of this bookstore, Gibert Jeune, within less than a block on St. Michel blvd.  Ugh.

I finally got to the correct store and discovered something new.  I thought I only had one book, which I had written the name of, followed by what I thought were two methods to get to the store.  As it turned out, I had written two textbooks and the name of the book included “taxi,” it wasn’t that my professor was telling me I could take a taxi to get there.  UGH!  I only figured this out when the lady at the store gave me one book and said she was “out of the other.”  Which opened up a new problem.  I had been given homework that would be due Friday morning, and Thursday is supposed to be a holiday where the bookstores would be closed!  Ugh.

I had written the address for another Gibert Jenue in my notes, so I walked five or so blocks to that one, which didn’t actually exist.  At that point, since I was carrying some groceries, my big camera, notes, and one textbook in a little bag (didn’t bring a backpack) I was tired, hungry, making blisters, and upset, so I just went home.

I went to email my professor (although I don’t have any clue if she speaks English, so I wasn’t sure what I was going to say) when I got home and realized I’d only written half of her email address down in my notes in all the craziness of class. Grr!  Thankfully I emailed CEA (my study abroad program that registered me for class at Sorbonne) and they ended up having an extra copy of the book that they gave me.

That afternoon most of our CEA group went for a walk and picic with Arnaud (CEA staff).  We had falafels and ate them together in a park and visited for a while then went home.